Watching paint dry might be the definition of boring, but the process of picking a paint color and actually painting usually isn’t. Shopping for paint, however, can be frustrating. One early pain point is picking the right brand and color of paint.
The process of selecting a paint often starts online at paint websites. Paint websites dedicated to residential paint projects can offer many benefits to shoppers including a huge selection of colors, expert advice, and a range of services such as color consultation and virtual room visualizations to avoid the unpleasant surprise of painting with a color you end up hating.
With all these extra benefits, does choosing paint online measure up to the experience of in-person shopping?
To understand the home paint researching and purchasing experience, we We used our MUiQ platform to collect data on a variety of attitudes and intentions toward three popular paint websites:
- Benjamin Moore
We computed SUPR-Q® and Net Promoter scores, investigated reasons for using the websites, measured users’ attitudes regarding their experiences, conducted key driver analyses, and analyzed reported usability problems.
Benchmark Study Details
In January of 2023, we asked 139 users of home paint websites in the US to recall their most recent experience and perceptions of one of the paint websites on their desktop and mobile app (if applicable) in the past year.
Participants completed the eight-item SUPR-Q (which includes the Net Promoter Score) and the two-item UX-Lite® standardized questionnaires and answered questions about their brand attitudes, usage, and prior experiences.
Quality of the Home Paint Website UX: SUPR-Q
The SUPR-Q is a standardized questionnaire widely used for measuring attitudes toward the quality of a website user experience. Its norms are computed from a rolling database of around 200 websites across dozens of industries.
SUPR-Q scores are percentile ranks that tell you how a website’s experience ranks relative to the other websites (50th percentile is average). The SUPR-Q provides an overall score as well as detailed scores for subdimensions of Usability, Trust, Appearance, and Loyalty.
The home paint websites in this study collectively performed very well and averaged at the 91st percentile. Behr received the highest SUPR-Q score at the 93rd percentile, but Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams were not far behind, both with overall scores at the 90th percentile.
Usability Scores and Appearance
We asked participants to rate how easy they thought it was to use and navigate the websites. All websites scored above the 50th percentile in usability. Behr had the highest usability score (81st percentile), Benjamin Moore scored in the middle (72nd percentile), and Sherwin-Williams scored the lowest in the group (61st percentile).
Participants on Sherwin-Williams mentioned trouble using the website due to difficult navigation and trouble finding products. Comments regarding usability for Sherwin-Williams included:
- “As I try to navigate around, random stuff pops up/open that I didn’t actually click on, thus blocking the screen. I also find it a little hard to navigate the shopping pages sometimes to find exactly the products I am looking for.”
- “The menus at the top are hard to deal with because they activate by just hovering over them. It’s also not intuitive where paints and such are if you’ve never seen the menus before. I didn’t see a search function at all, at least on the main page.”
- “It can be difficult to navigate when it comes to sorting colors, etc.”
We also asked participants to rate the appearance of the home paint websites. Appearance scores were high on all the websites, with Benjamin Moore having the highest score (93rd percentile). Behr was not far behind at the 88th percentile, while Sherwin-Williams scored a bit lower than its two competitors (71st percentile). While Appearance scores were high overall, participants did have issues with cluttered web pages and annoying pop-ups on all three home paint websites. Clutter was the top issue on the Behr and Sherwin-Williams websites:
- “It’s very messy. Pop-ups about email lists and feedback, tons of tabs and selectable links throughout the home page, etc.” — Behr
- “Overall, the home page is too cluttered in my opinion. I think it could be simplified and organized better to reflect a more modern website design.” — Sherwin-Williams
Loyalty/Net Promoter Scores
The average NPS for the home paint websites was 35% (more promoters than detractors). Sherwin-Williams had the highest NPS (40%). Behr and Benjamin Moore were not close behind, both scoring 30%. In general, a better user experience is a good predictor of customer loyalty. Comments about the home paint websites related to NPS ratings included:
- “The site is great for getting inspiration and ideas for decorating. It is great for looking at colors to see what I want to experiment with next. They also have good resources like How-To guides.” — Behr
- “It is relatively simple to explore the paint color options on the Benjamin Moore site. I often discuss paint color with my clients and sometimes suggest they repaint their homes before listings, so I direct them to sources to help them make decisions and selections.” — Benjamin Moore
- “I really like the color painting tool that lets you ‘try out’ colors on sample pictures, or to upload your own picture to see how a color would look. I also like that under the colors section, it shows complimentary colors to go with the one you selected, and it’s hugely helpful to have photos posted from real users of their space painted in similar colors. It’s so hard to tell sometimes how a color will look in real life, so the more real photos the better!” — Sherwin-Williams
More verbatim comments are available in the downloadable report.
Websites and Mobile App Usage
As part of this benchmark, we asked participants how they accessed the home paint websites. All participants reported using their desktop/laptop computers (this was a requirement for participation in the survey), with 63% also using mobile websites and 28% also using mobile apps. Comments about the home paint websites related to the mobile app included:
- “I can pull up colors on the go more easily than the website.” — Sherwin-Williams
- “I like how organized all of the categories are. I can easily go from interior paint to stain in a matter of moments. The color displays are also attractive.” — Behr
Users reported visiting the home paint websites and apps a few times a year or less.
Key Drivers of the Home Paint Website Experience
To better understand what affects SUPR-Q scores and Likelihood-to-Recommend (LTR) ratings, we asked respondents to rate 20 attributes of the home paint website experience (full details are in the downloadable report).
We conducted key driver analyses (regression modeling) to quantify the extent to which ratings on these items drive (account for) variation in overall SUPR-Q scores and, separately, LTR (the rating from which the NPS is derived).
SUPR-Q Drivers. As shown in Figure 1, the top key driver was “Overall, I thought the website was too cluttered,” accounting for 18% of the variability in SUPR-Q scores. This was followed by “There’s a wide variety of colors on the website” (12%) and “It’s easy to search for items” (12%). Taken together, seven significant predictors accounted for 72% of the variance in the SUPR-Q scores.
What to Improve: Key Drivers
Our key driver analysis also highlighted common problems and frustrations across the home paint websites, including cluttered web pages with bothersome pop-ups and difficulty color matching on the website.
Clutter on the home paint websites was a pain point
Clutter on the websites was a top key driver of the website experience and, as mentioned previously, was a common frustration for participants across the home paint websites. Users on all three sites encountered annoying pop-ups, busy web pages, and an overwhelming number of options (Figure 2). Clutter was mentioned as the top issue for Behr and Sherwin-Williams, while the top frustration on the Benjamin Moore website was the recurrent pop-ups.
“I did not like that I had 3 pop-ups right when I got to the site.” — Benjamin Moore
Of the three websites, Benjamin Moore had the fewest comments related to clutter (outside of pop-ups) and had the lowest overall clutter score (18.3 on a 100-point scale where lower scores indicate less clutter). Respondents generally liked the layout of the website and found it simple (Figure 3).
“I think it is sleek and I appreciate the simplistic layout.” — Benjamin Moore
“I like how sleek and simple the transitions between pages are. It seems like they put a lot of effort in designing a visually pleasing website.” — Benjamin Moore
Difficulty color matching on the website
The ease of finding an exact color match was a key driver of the home painting websites LTR scores and was a frequent problem across the home paint websites. Participants mentioned that the nature of seeing the colors on the computer screen differs from seeing them in person (Figure 4). Participants expressed concerns about having computer monitors with varying resolutions and brightness, which may distort the actual color.
“I am a little unsure of exact colors on a computer screen vs in real life.” — Sherwin-Williams
“I find that my computer doesn’t differentiate colors as well as seeing the color samples in person so it makes it harder to narrow down to a specific color.” — Benjamin Moore
“Sometimes hard to find exact colors because monitors are all different.” — Behr
Because color matching can be difficult online, some participants said they like to visit the home paint websites first to do research or find inspiration, and then they will go into the brick-and-mortar store to make their final selections and purchase the paint.
“I normally buy in store but use the website for inspiration and to narrow down colors.” — Sherwin-Williams
“We use the site mostly as an inspiration, but I’m sure that doesn’t make it great for you guys to monetize.” — Benjamin Moore
“I just prefer to use the site for research and then actually buy the paint in stores like Home Depot.” — Behr
The websites do offer online color consultation resources, like the Free Virtual Color Consultation on Sherwin-Williams, which allows users to upload photos of the space and chat with a color consultant (Figure 5).
However, if the customer wants an old-fashioned swatch, those can also be ordered on the paint websites. Two participants did mention that color samples can take a while to be delivered, so it’s sometimes faster and easier to pick them up in store.
“Sometimes when I am choosing paint colors, I like to get inspiration and browse on the website but it is much easier to choose colors with a swatch in hand. Sometimes I don’t want to have to wait for a sample to come in so it’s just easier to run to a store to find the actual samples to look at as it’s faster.” — Benjamin Moore
“Although easy to get, the color samples take several days to arrive. If you go to a store you can come home with them that day.” — Sherwin-Williams
Inspiration is important
The ability to find inspiration on the home paint websites was a key driver of the overall SUPR-Q, explaining 9% of the variance in scores. Participants in the study mentioned that finding inspiration and ideas on the home paint websites was an important reason to visit. Many participants said they use the home paint websites during the planning phase of their project and then go into a store to make final purchases.
The Behr and Benjamin Moore websites have a tab on the home page for, respectively, “Inspiration” and “Paint Ideas” (Figures 6 and 7). Users appreciated this easy access to ideas, inspiration, and resources for their home projects.
- “I really like the inspiration pages on Behr.com. I am very interested in making over my home and this page gives me great inspiration on design, color schemes, and quality. I come to this website often for those ideas on projects and inspiration.” — Behr
- “The inspiration pages are great to help me visualize what I want for my makeover project, how to get the design and color scheme I want, and then I am motivated to get the job done.” — Behr
- “I like how it has paint ideas for you to find inspiration for both exterior and interior decorating. Seeing the different color options and so forth is very helpful to me.” — Benjamin Moore
- “It has a wide variety of DIY products to choose from, with paint being one of the focal points. It’s great because it provides images for inspiration, as well as how-to guides.” — Benjamin Moore
The home paint websites also have more advanced features for inspiration, like the Color Visualizer on Behr, which allows users to upload a photo of their space and preview different color schemes online (Figure 8).
Summary and Takeaways
An analysis of the user experience of three home paint websites found:
- Paint websites provide good user experiences. The home paint websites in this study collectively performed very well and averaged in the 91st Behr received the highest SUPR-Q score at the 93rd percentile, but Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams were not close behind with overall scores in the 90th percentile.
- Cluttered websites with frequent pop-ups encumber the experience. Clutter was a top key driver of the overall SUPR-Q scores and was also a top issue mentioned by participants on all three home paint websites. Cluttered web pages, frequent and annoying pop-ups, and overwhelming information were frustrating for users as they navigated the home paint sites.
- Online color matching can be tricky. Users hesitated to color-match online versus in person. Even with extra website features such as free online color consultations and virtual color visualizers, participants still felt that paint colors might look distorted on screen and should be chosen in person.
- Project inspiration is important to users. Finding project inspiration was a significant key driver of the home paint website experience, and users appreciated the dedicated inspiration pages on the Behr and Benjamin Moore websites. Using the paint websites for research, resources, inspiration, and ideas was popular among home paint website users.
For more details, see the downloadable report.